Dead Silence

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Dead Silence
Dead silence.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Wan
Screenplay byLeigh Whannell
Story by
  • James Wan
  • Leigh Whannell
Produced by
CinematographyJohn R. Leonetti
Edited byMichael N. Knue
Music byCharlie Clouser
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 16, 2007 (2007-03-16)
Running time
  • 89 minutes
  • 92 minutes (unrated cut)
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[1]
Box office$22.4 million[1]

Dead Silence is a 2007 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell. The film stars Ryan Kwanten as Jamie Ashen, a young widower returning to his hometown to search for answers to his wife's death. It also stars Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, and Bob Gunton.

Dead Silence was theatrically released in the United States on March 16, 2007, by Universal Pictures. The film was dedicated to Gregg Hoffman. Despite receiving initial negative reviews, the film has since gathered a cult following.


Jamie Ashen and his wife, Lisa, receive an anonymous gift of a ventriloquist doll called "Billy". When Jamie goes out to pick up their takeout dinner, a figure attacks Lisa, who is pregnant, causing her to have a miscarriage and scream. Jamie returns home and finds her dead with her tongue cut out. After Jamie is released from custody by Detective Jim Lipton due to lack of evidence, he spots inside Billy's box a mysterious message about "Mary Shaw", a deceased ventriloquist from his hometown, Raven's Fair.

Returning to Raven's Fair, now old and rundown, Jamie visits his estranged, wealthy and wheelchair-using father, Edward, and his much-younger wife, Ella, for information regarding Mary Shaw. Dismissing them as superstitions, Jamie arranges for Lisa's funeral with the help of a local mortician named Henry Walker. Henry's senile wife, Marion, warns Jamie that Mary Shaw's spirit is dangerous and urges him to bury Billy. Jamie does so but is confronted by Detective Lipton, who followed Jamie and finds his actions suspicious.

Henry explains to Jamie that Mary Shaw was a famous and popular ventriloquist who was publicly humiliated when a young boy named Michael rudely claimed that he could see her lips moving during one of her performances. Some weeks later, Michael disappeared and his family blamed it on Mary Shaw and lynched her. Mary's last wish was to have her body turned into a doll and buried with her 101 dolls, who she called her children. Henry, then still a child, saw Shaw (after she was turned into a dummy) rise up, but was spared thanks to his silence, because Mary takes her revenge by killing those who scream. Jamie finds out that Michael, who actually was murdered by Mary Shaw, was his great-uncle. As part of Mary's lynching, the Ashen family forced her to scream and permanently silenced her by cutting her tongue out; as such, she has since been seeking revenge against their entire bloodline and all those in Raven's Fair by killing them using the same method.

Mary Shaw kills Henry Walker and Detective Lipton discovers that all of Mary Shaw's dolls have been dug up. He informs Jamie and is just about to arrest him, when Jamie receives a call from "Henry", asking him to go to Shaw's old theatre to prove his innocence. At the ruined theater, Jamie and Lipton discover 100 of the dolls in their massive display case, along with Michael's body, which had been turned into a marionette. Mary reveals to Jamie that she killed Lisa because, unbeknownst to him, she was pregnant with his child, thereby killing any potential newborn of the Ashen family. Jamie and Lipton burn the theatre and all of Shaw's dolls, but Lipton falls and screams, sealing his fate.

Back at his father's residence, Jamie is confronted by Mary, but repels her by throwing Billy into the fireplace. He learns, much to his horror, that his father actually died long ago; the current "Edward" is actually a doll converted from his corpse, controlled by Ella, who is the "perfect doll" that Mary Shaw created just before her death. Jamie screams in terror as Ella, possessed by Mary, kills him.

The film ends with Jamie reciting a nursery rhyme about Shaw while a photo album with human puppets is shown: Lisa, Henry, Lipton, Edward, Ella, and Jamie himself. Mary closes the book, finally completing her revenge.



Filming took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Dead Silence was released in the United States on March 16, 2007,[2] with an "R" rating for Violence.

Box office[edit]

In the United States, as of April 16, 2007, the film's total domestic gross has been worth US$16.8 million (according to Box Office Mojo), and screenings of Dead Silence were ceased in most theatres 16 days following its release; the film's estimated production budget was US$20 million. As of April 1, 2009, US$5,572,971 has been generated globally. Worldwide, the film has grossed $22,382,047.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 21%, based on 81 reviews, with an average rating of 4.00/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "More tasteful than recent slasher flicks, but Dead Silence is undone by boring characters, bland dialogue, and an unnecessary and obvious twist ending."[4] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 34 out of 100, based on 15 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[5]

Home video[edit]

The film was released on DVD on June 26, 2007, with an "unrated" version also released, and the same thing was done for the HD DVD release. The film has since grossed US$17,304,718 in overall DVD sales.[6]

Dead Silence was released on Blu-ray Disc in the U.K. on October 25, 2010.[7] In May 2015, it was announced that Universal Studios would be releasing the film to Blu-ray Disc in the U.S. It was released on August 11, 2015.[8]


Dead Silence Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Charlie Clouser, Aiden
ReleasedMarch 16, 2007
GenreScore, horror punk, Gothic rock
LabelLakeshore Records
ProducerCharlie Clouser, Aiden
Charlie Clouser, Aiden chronology
Dead Silence Soundtrack
Saw IV
Singles from Rain in Hell, Dead Silence
  1. "We Sleep Forever"
    Released: March 2007

Lakeshore Records released the soundtrack of Dead Silence on March 20, 2007. The CD contains 31 tracks, the first track being the song "We Sleep Forever" performed by American rock band Aiden (despite not actually being featured in the film itself). The rest of the CD is taken up by Charlie Clouser's film score. Clouser has worked on many film scores, such as the Saw series and Resident Evil: Extinction.

Track listing
  1. "We Sleep Forever" – Aiden
  2. "Main Titles" [2:56]
  3. "Sheet" [1:08]
  4. "Blood" [1:41]
  5. "Apartment" [1:28]
  6. "Raven's Fair" [0:59]
  7. "Dad's House" [0:47]
  8. "Ella" [1:29]
  9. "My Son" [1:03]
  10. "What Poem?" [1:31]
  11. "Caskets" [1:57]
  12. "Motel Hearse" [1:22]
  13. "It Can't Be" [1:40]
  14. "Funeral" [0:49]
  15. "Billy" [2:42]
  16. "Perplexed" [1:25]
  17. "Steal Billy" [0:50]
  18. "Lips Moving" [1:57]
  19. "Coffin" [2:16]
  20. "Photos" [1:36]
  21. "Map Drive" [0:49]
  22. "Guignol" [1:57]
  23. "He Talked" [3:06]
  24. "It's Soup" [2:09]
  25. "Full Tank" [1:49]
  26. "Doll Wall" [1:37]
  27. "All the Dolls" [1:07]
  28. "One Left" [0:27]
  29. "Mary Shaw" [0:31]
  30. "Dummy" [1:05]
  31. "Family Album" [0:37]

Alternate scenes[edit]

Many alternate scenes were released on both the unrated DVD and the unrated HD DVD. They are listed below:

  • Detective Lipton has a conversation with his colleague before interrogating Jamie on Lisa's death.
  • Mary Shaw's performance at the theatre is extended.
  • Jamie walking through Mary Shaw's property is slightly extended.
  • The unrated version depicts Detective Lipton rowing the boat towards the dilapidated theatre to chase Jamie.
  • Mary Shaw is depicted several times throughout the unrated version with a long, slimy tongue, made of the numerous tongues from her victims. In the scenes, she uses her tongue to frighten her victims, making it slither from her mouth (she licks Jamie's cheek in one scene). Along with the tongues of her victims, Mary acquires their voices as well.
  • Jamie attempting to swim out of the theatre is slightly extended.
  • In an alternate ending, Ella simply knocks Jamie out after he discovers his father was a puppet all along. Then, she explains that the original Ella was a human being with Edward as an abusive husband. Edward knocked her down the stairs and killed their unborn child. Ella dug up the grave where the puppet Billy was buried and became possessed by Mary Shaw. Afterwards, Ella makes a family photograph and then (dressed as Mary Shaw) tells a bedtime story to a child by candlelight, later revealed to be a traumatized and brainwashed (yet still very much alive) Jamie with his voice removed or tongue ripped out (or it would have been had they added the visual effect planned). This story is the poem. Ella also reveals that only silence can save you from Mary Shaw. Then she blows out the candle, ending the film.
  • The Billy puppet from the Saw franchise makes a brief cameo; it can be seen sitting on the floor as Jamie starts to walk towards the clown doll.

Post-release commentary[edit]

In his personal blog, screenwriter Whannell reveals the origins of the film within the context of the Hollywood film industry. In a candid post entitled "Dud Silence: The Hellish Experience of Making a Bad Horror Film", Whannell explains that the film was conceived following the advice of his agent at the time and that a "script doctor" was eventually employed by the production studio. Whannell concludes the post with a description of the key lessons that were learned following the Dead Silence experience:

After everything is said and done, I'm almost glad Dead Silence happened, because it gave me an extreme, coal-face lesson in what not to do. It was like learning to swim by leaping off Niagara Falls. I only write scripts on spec now, which means that I write them in my own time without getting paid and then take them out into the world to see if anyone's interested. Never again will I enter the arranged marriage of selling a pitch. I have also become very gun-shy about working with studios. In the world of independent film, what you write ends up on screen. Plus, they don't have the money to bring in script doctors! Works fine for me. Who knows, maybe one day I will work with a studio again...[9]


  1. ^ a b Dead Silence at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ IMDb (1990–2012). "Release dates for Dead Silence (2007)". IMDb., Inc. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  3. ^ Box Office Mojo. "Dead Silence". Box Office Mojo., Inc. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  4. ^ "Dead Silence (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  5. ^ "Dead Silence (2007)". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  6. ^ The Numbers (1997–2012). "Dead Silence – DVD Sales". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  7. ^ "Dead Silence Blu-ray UK". Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  8. ^ "Dead Silence Unrated Blu-ray". Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  9. ^ Leigh Whannell (August 31, 2011). "Dud Silence: The Hellish Experience Of Making A Bad Horror Film". Word In The Stone. Leigh Whannell. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2021.

External links[edit]